At this point you might be thinking: This all sounds good in theory, but how realistic is it? Statistics and quantitative analysis are fine for books or classrooms, but local TV newsrooms are in the real world. In TV, you get results or you get lost. That, after all, is why the average tenure of news directors is something less than two years. The successful get promoted to spread whatever “magic” they have somewhere else. The less successful are sent packing (see Sidebar 7.1, The View from the Hot Seat).
THE VIEW FROM THE HOT SEAT
By Scott Libin
Every news director, general manager, media-company executive, and owner I know encourages, appreciates, and supports quality journalism. As long as it works. “Television news is a product, just like any other,” my former boss Rob Hubbard said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “If Target puts something in the store that isn't selling, no matter how good it is, you have to adjust it.”
The adjustment Hubbard was referring to began with my 2003 departure as news director from KSTP-TV, the Twin Cities ABC affiliate. Rob and I agreed I wasn't the guy to take the station in the new direction he had chosen: a style a lot like the industry's “live, local and late-breaking” approach.
In fairness, my five years at KSTP constitute a pretty good run for a television news director – especially for one whose station stayed in third place for virtually that entire time.